PEYTON CROSS WRITES – With its attractive cityscapes and strong economy, Saudi Arabia can give the impression of being an advanced desert nation. Then it announces plans to crucify and behead a young political dissident, and the world goes, Hmmmm.

Priya Joshi of the International Business Times reports that on September 7,  21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixation after his final appeal was dismissed. In Saudia Arabia, crucifixion entails the removal of the victim’s head while their body is tied to a cross in a public.

Ali was 17 when he was arrested on charges of participating in illegal protests. Supporters say he was denied access to a lawyer, and was forced to confess while being tortured. According to another article from the International Business Times, Ali was then convicted of a wide array of charges, including participating in a terrorist organization. His family claims that he was targeted due to his familial connections to Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime.

Despite global condemnation, Saudi Arabia has executed 79 people this year and 84 people in 2014. Back in June, the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court upheld a sentence of 10 years and 1,000 lashes to Raif Badawi, co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network internet discussion group. The site encouraged online debate about religious and political issues.

Ali’s case has also sparked social outrage online. Many, including American comedian Bill Maher, took to twitter to support Ali and criticize Saudi Arabia:

While the international attention to Bodwi’s case did not set him free, the lashes were postponed. Such attention to Ali’s case could lighten his sentence.